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Smart Highways and the Future of the Hard Shoulder

Updated: Dec 16, 2019


Photo by Florian Steciuk on Unsplash

When it comes to the future of driving, smart cars are not the only thing on the near horizon - smart highways could soon become a reality, too. One potential feature of safe highways is the elimination of hard shoulders in favour of more emergency rest stops. But as we move forward into a 'smart' world, this warning from AA, via the Guardian, is a good reminder that there is still work to be done and conversations to be had about how safety will play a part in our high-tech future. As AA points out, there are some important concerns that need to be raised, like what the lack of a hard shoulder will mean for emergency vehicles or for vehicles that aren't able to make it to an emergency rest stop.

"Smart motorways are part of a plan by Highways England to reduce congestion. The routes feature technology designed to monitor traffic levels, change speed limits and close lanes to allow emergency vehicles through."

An important aspect of driving is realizing that problems and emergencies can arise suddenly. Being a safe driver means learning how to drive defensively, but external things like the road environment play an important part of road safety. Hopefully as we move forward, how we accommodate human error and unexpected emergencies will play a part in the conversation.

You can read more about the move towards smart highways in England and what AA has to say in Ben Quinn's piece in the Guardian.